As many other attractions in the United States, it sure feels like a tourist trap when going out by arranged sea vessels to see her close by. Standing in line for hours is not unusual if you haven't booked a departure time in advance for the Statue Cruises. Anyhow for getting those beautiful closeup shots, you have to go on this tour. I think you will get the best shots just walking in front of her on the Statue of Liberty grounds meaning you don't need to purchase the add-ons to the ticket if your focus is for the photography.
You have a great alternative or complement to the Statue Cruises though and that's the public Staten Island Ferry. This service runs around the clock to Staten Island from the south of Manhattan. The best of all, it's free of charge! This roundtrip takes approximately one hour but beware that you must disembark and then board the ferry again to get back to Manhattan. From the deck you will get a great view of the statue as well and even twice. The photographs will be more from a distance but still the ferry passing by quite close depending on the traffic situation.
My photos below is shot during a stay in May during two different occasions, as you can see the weather in the New York can vary a lot and really fast. From a completely grey and overcast day to clear blue skies in minutes, so you may get some interesting shots regardless of the weather I will say.
Hope this blog post and photos will give some advice how to best shoot this icon of New York and the United States!
The classic closeup of the face and coronal as seen from the walking path beneath
(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 125, 1/250 sec, f/11 @ 300 mm)
The weather can deteriorate fast but with interesting shots as results
(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/320 sec, f/13 @ 24 mm)
Another great angle from the walking path beneath the platform
(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/500 sec, f/8 @ 300 mm)
Wide angle shot from the walking path with an interesting sky
(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/9 @ 300 mm)
Sunset shot from the Staten Island Ferry while passing the Liberty Island
(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/640 sec, f/8 @ 300 mm)